Education International
Education International

G20/G8 Summit Declarations: Governments agree to disagree

published 6 July 2010 updated 6 July 2010

The Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) have drafted a joint evaluation on the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers’ meeting.

The paper exposes the failure of global leaders to respond to unions’ demands and meet the increasing challenge of creating jobs in the years to come. As Robert Harris, Senior Consultant of EI, stated: “Unfortunately, the Toronto G20 met our expectations – which were very low!”

The issue of jobs was not even treated in the body of the Summit Declaration, and it was instead relegated to the Annex, as a second-rate affair.

Unions’ analysis reveals that governments are divided on the question of whether to give priority to recovery and jobs, or the early reduction of public deficits: “Germany, the UK and Canada have lobbied for what would amount to premature exit from economic stimulus measures, while the U.S. together with some emerging economies have called for continuing support for growth.”

However, no link is drawn between deficit cutting and the potential use of new taxes such as a Financial Transactions Tax (FTT), or more progressive taxation to meet those fiscal needs.

In this respect, G20 governments were again divided: “The acceptance that some countries may pursue a financial levy or a FTT, while others would not, is another example of the failure of coordination.” As a result, “consideration of any globally-implemented action regarding the FTT or other taxes appears to be absent from the G20 agenda.”

To complete the picture, the text assumes that deregulated labour markets would improve both economic and employment outcomes, returning to the old agenda of labour market deregulation as a magic bullet.

Additionally, the Declaration of the G8 Summit in Muskoka, titled Recovery and New Beginnings shows that, based on OECD estimates, “there is a shortfall of $50bn by 2010 to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015.”

Yet G8 Leaders are convinced that “significant progress” has been achieved towards the MDGs, even if they concede that “more needs to be done”. In doing so, global Leaders are keen to share responsibility with others: actions should come “not only from governments, but also from the private sector, foundations, non-governmental organizations and civil society.”

A few welcome positive aspects that can be found in the G8 Declaration are the full cancellation of Haiti’s International debt with Financial Institutions, and the much publicised achievement of the Summit: the so-called Muskoka Initiative, which aims to accelerate progress towards the MDGs on reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.